CX is different in the world of B2B. The customer journeys you are creating vary widely when the general consumer isn’t the focus. B2B “customers” can range from CMOs and sales reps to distributers and customer service reps, and each have their own set of vastly different goals, requirements, and customer journeys. That’s why creating personas is so critical. Personas serve as a powerful tool to help teams empathize with their customers and design products, services, processes, communications, and journeys on behalf of the customer need, regardless of how varied those needs may be.
What Is a Persona?
Personas are a representation of groups of customers – typically built around a job role – with common requirements, including their expectations, goals, preferences, and mindsets. Not simply a job title, role, or customer type, personas reveal customer requirements and priorities and offer actionable, richer information. Sometimes, we can forget that B2B buyers are still people whose personal experiences influence their professional expectations. Personas allow organizations to anticipate and craft customer journeys that meet or exceed these expectations by better aligning products, services and solutions to customers’ goals and objectives.
ENGINE approaches this work in the context of jobs-to-be-done (i.e., the specific tasks a persona needs to accomplish and how they want to complete each one). These jobs ultimately inform the ideal customer journey that ends when the customer has accomplished their goal. While marketing and sales are the most common persona use cases, B2B leaders can find value in personas when modernizing workflows, innovating products and services, and implementing digital transformation efforts as well.
Let’s explore the three major groups that comprise B2B personas.
External Customer Personas
This is the most obvious group: your end buyer. Whether you’re a manufacturer selling to automotive companies or a software solution selling to marketers, you know who your target buyers are. But as B2B buying models become increasingly complex, buying groups grow larger. Decisions are spread among clusters of decision-makers, creating complexities, and blurring the lines between ultimate decision-makers and influencers. Without the guidance of clear personas, people designing products, services, processes, communications, and journeys can easily lose sight of the ultimate goal – to fulfil the customers’ requirements – and fall back on product specs, company talking points, or “the way things have always been done.”
Vendors and other partner organizations are another critical category of persona. Though they may not be your end user, these groups often have extensive interactions with your organization. Furthermore, they are enablers of end user interactions and can become another face of your brand (think: distributors that facilitate product delivery between manufacturers and large retailers). By enabling smooth and efficient experiences with these groups, you’re not just satisfying a critical part of your supply chain or marketing ecosystem, you are also increasing the likelihood of good CX with your end customer.
Internal Customer Personas
Perhaps the least obvious customer persona, your employees are a critical group to consider in persona work. This is not only because you may have internal stakeholders that play a role in critical customer journeys (think: sales reps that may facilitate purchases between your product centers and end buyers), but also because keeping these internal personas happy is critical to driving business outcomes. This is where EX (employee experience) and CX meet. Employees on the frontlines of customer interactions like customer service reps and sales associates have a direct impact on your end user’s experience. Ensuring you are providing your employees with good experiences ultimately trickles down to the customer. But even non-customer facing employees may play a role in persona work. Ensuring your employees are enjoying excellent experiences is a way to build and improve your employer brand, ultimately leading to lower rates of turnover and higher quality work.
How Do You Create a Persona?
So where do you start? Journey mapping research to create personas and their relevant maps can be accomplished through any number of methodologies, but they are best developed when informed by both internal (relevant company stakeholders) and external (the customers themselves) perspectives. ENGINE partners with B2B organizations to help determine focus areas and set priorities, create and validate personas via tested research methodologies, activate insights via scenario planning, and ultimately implement, socialize, and optimize these critical learnings. Regardless of where you are in your persona journey, we are here to help.
Curious to Discuss ENGINE’s B2B Solutions? Contact Us!
ENGINE is a global, full-service media and marketing services company that unites culture and commerce to move brands forward faster. We are: Driven by data. Fueled by imagination. Powered by technology. Founded in 2005, ENGINE has global headquarters in New York and 16 offices across North America, the UK, Europe and Asia-Pacific. ENGINE empowers clients to outperform in the present and win in the future with its vast range of marketing solutions including – insights, creative, media, data and technology. Find out more at enginegroup.com and follow @engineworldwide.